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Law, dentistry school deans discuss potential tuition increases at Task Force meeting

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Screenshot from the virtually-held Tuition and Fee Advisory Task Force meeting on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020 where committee members discussed recommendations for tuition increases.

The Tuition and Fee Advisory Task Force met Thursday to discuss tuition increase proposals for the UNC Law School and UNC Adams School of Dentistry.

Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Nate Knuffman and other committee members called upon leaders in the professional schools to discuss recommendations for tuition increases. 

Who was at the meeting?

  • The committee, made up of UNC faculty members and students.
  • Dr. Scott De Rossi, dean of the School of Dentistry.
  • Martin Brinkley, dean of UNC School of Law and professor.
  • Kevin Cain, executive vice dean for operations at the School of Dentistry.

What's new?

  • De Rossi and Brinkley discussed implications and justifications of the respective tuition increase proposals. 
  • De Rossi said dental education is the most expensive program on the University's campus. He said the program needs income generated from patient care to function. 
  • “We have to fund extraordinary expenditures to meet infrastructure and equipment needs and to deliver preclinical and clinical education," De Rossi said.
  • Cain said the proposed increases are not out of market for public universities.
  • “The student clinics don't generate the revenue to offset the expense of having faculty in the student clinics," Cain said. "... We have to offset those expenses through tuition and fees, or other clinical areas, like the faculty practice." 
  • Cain also said those faculty practices are unable to cover the expenses due to reduced revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Law school tuition proposals 

  • Brinkley said the UNC Law School already pursued a tuition increase last year, but it was tabled by the Board of Governors — despite having support from the Board of Governors’ finance committee, UNC's Board of Trustees, the chancellor and the provost. 
  • Brinkley said this year's proposal is "scaled back" and does not apply to current students. 
  • Brinkley said the school is asking for a $2,500 tuition increase, which would apply to incoming nonresidential students. The majority of nonresident students typically become residential students after their first year of law school, Brinkley said. 
  • “We typically wind up with somewhere between 10 and 15 percent of the second and third year classes actually being still nonresidents,” Brinkley said. 
  • Brinkley said the tuition increase proposal was designed to avoid losing faculty to other institutions, offset loss tuition revenue associated with class size reductions and hire a mental health counselor for the law school. 

What happened last meeting?

  • Proposals discussed in the previous meeting included a 6.6 percent tuition increase for nonresident law students, as well as 25 percent and 50 percent tuition increases for doctoral and master's degree nonresident dental school students. 

What's next?

  • The Tuition and Fee Advisory Task Force makes recommendations to the chancellor and other University leaders. Those recommendations will be presented to the Board of Trustees in a November meeting, Knuffman said.
  • “Those recommendations will then go to the System office, and at that point, the System office and the Board of Governors will review over the course of several months,” Knuffman said. “Typically, final action is taken in March.”

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Kevin Cain's title at the Adams School of Dentistry. He is the executive vice dean for operations, not the associate dean for finance and strategy. The article has been updated to reflect the change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.

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